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Search Ad Update: Q4 A Mixed Bag In Terms Of Spending

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The latest round of search-ad spending reports offers both good and bad news on Q4: AdGooroo found double-digit growth in some areas, while Efficient Frontier reported that overall search spending dropped 8 percent year-over-year — the first quarter of negative growth the company has observed since it started tracking the figures several years ago, per the NYT.

Gains for *Google* as usual: Google (NSDQ: GOOG) wasn’t immune from Q4’s financial meltdown — analysts cut estimates and the giant’s stock price fell below $300 in November — but the reports point to a healthy Q4 in terms of search. Efficient Frontier said Google held its 76 percent market share from Q3; AdGooroo reported that Google also led in terms of growth in advertiser coverage, with 58 percent more first-page ads in Q4 than the previous quarter.

Lots more after the jump

*Microsoft* gains in the battle for what’s left: Efficient Frontier reported that Live Search’s market share fell slightly to 4.2 percent from Q3; Yahoo’s rose to 20 percent. But AdGooroo found that Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) won where it really counts — growth in advertiser coverage. The number of first-page ads on Live Search grew by more than 42 percent, while Yahoo’s ad coverage grew by just about 9 percent. AdGooroo also reported that Microsoft continued to encroach on Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) in terms of advertiser share: Yahoo had over 17 percent more advertisers in Q3, but that lead narrowed to just 3 percent by the end of Q4.

Retailers flocked to search in Q4: The retail sector didn’t have a stellar holiday season, but retail advertisers did pump more money into search ads, particularly at the start of the quarter. Efficient Frontier reported that retailers spent 9 percent more in Q4 than they did the previous year; SearchIgnite pegged the boost at 12 percent.